The All-Time Greatest Air Jordan 3s: Part 2
From the OG colourways to 2010's Doernbecher release and 2018's Seoul-inspired nod to Korea, Part One of our Air Jordan 3 retrospective highlighted 10 of our favourite AJ3s to touch down since the Tinker Hatfield design debuted in 1988.
However, a list of best-ever Air Jordan 3s definitely can't be capped at just 10 picks, so we're back with Part Two to highlight 10 more of the all-time greatest AJ3s. This time around, the list goes PE-heavy and includes 2011's uber-hyped 'Pit Crew' colourways for Oregon, as well as the Lakers-inspired 3s that the Black Mamba laced up during his sneaker free agency. Naturally, no list would be complete without colabs, and this one's got them covered by way of Solefly's 'Lotto' design, the atmos 'Safari' drop, and more.
Peep all 10 below and stay tuned for more of our retrospective looks at the best sneakerdom has to offer.
Air Jordan 3 ‘Oregon Pit Crew’ (2011)Air Jordan 3 ‘Oregon Pit Crew’ (2011)
Thanks to Nike's longtime connections with the University of Oregon (Bill Bowerman, Phil Knight, and Tinker Hatfield all graduated from the school), the folks up in Eugene have not only been the beneficiaries of hundreds of millions of dollars in donations, but of countless exclusive Swoosh products, too. The best of the bunch? The 'Oregon Pit Crew' Air Jordan 3s. Some of the most hyped Jordans ever, the kicks were earned by the most devout members of the 'Pit Crew' student section, and came complete with details like embroidered duck feet on the heel and the Oregon 'O' on the tongue. The pairs were never released at retail, and while the black pair may have been more hyped, we've always been partial to the white version since it ditched the lateral and medial Pit Crew branding cues in favour of a cleaner look.
Air Jordan 3 ‘Sport Blue’ (2014)Air Jordan 3 ‘Sport Blue’ (2014)
Back in 2014, Jordan Brand channeled the look of the beloved 'Royal' Air Jordan 1 into a corresponding take on the Air Jordan 3. The result was essentially a spin on the classic Black/Cement look with bold 'Sport Blue' accents in place of the usual red. Instead of just applying the blue to eyelets, tongue lining, and Jumpman branding, however, Jordan went the extra mile and further highlighted the use of the hue by also applying it to the likes of the eyestay, midsole and outsole.
Solefly x Air Jordan 3 ‘Lotto’ (2014)Solefly x Air Jordan 3 ‘Lotto’ (2014)
Solefly's Jordan 88 Racer from 2018 was pretty cool in its own right, but let's be honest: the real reason people copped the kicks was for a shot at the corresponding lottery-inspired Air Jordan 3. Each pair of Racers came with a scratch ticket that could be redeemed for prizes like special edition t-shirts, or the aforementioned AJ3s. Like the Racers, the AJ3 – which was created in 2014, but remains unreleased in any official retail capacity – boasted a bold colourway as a nod to the Florida Lotto ticket and was highlighted by bright yellow and crimson accents along with custom ping pong ball–covered insoles.
Air Jordan 3 ‘Kobe’ (2016)Air Jordan 3 ‘Kobe’ (2016)
Kobe Bryant was famously a sneaker free agent during the 2002/03 NBA season, and laced up countless Lakers-inspired player exclusives over the course of the campaign. A longtime favourite for Black Mamba fans was Bryant's Air Jordan 3 PE from Jordan Brand. Rocking a Los Angeles–centric nod to the classic White/Cement look, Kobe's 3s added splashes of purple and gold to the likes of the outsole, midsole, eyelets, tongue lining, and Jumpman. Sadly, the slick PE has remained just that in the years since, though Jordan Brand did gift pairs to friends and family – along with a corresponding AJ8 – in 2016 in honour of Bryant's retirement.
atmos x Air Jordan 3 'Safari' (2017)atmos x Air Jordan 3 'Safari' (2017)
Air Jordan 3 collaborations have been few and far between, but atmos' 2017 creation will likely remain at the top of the heap no matter how many retailers end up getting a crack at the Tinker Hatfield–designed classic. Created in celebration of Air Max Day and released alongside an Air Max 1, the Air Jordan 3 'Safari' was a nod to the Japanese sneaker stalwart's iconic AM1 from 2002, pairing black nubuck with an icy outsole and a combination of green and gold accents. The safari print was the real star of the show though, replacing the AJ3's signature elephant print on the upper, and also covering the insoles.
Air Jordan 3 College PEs (2018)Air Jordan 3 College PEs (2018)
Back in the early months of 2018, Jordan Brand got a head start on the March Madness festivities by hooking up UNC, Michigan, Marquette and Georgetown athletes with their own Air Jordan 3 PEs. In each case, the school-specific colourways were highlighted by corresponding logos on the tongues to go along with custom insoles. All four deserve some shine, but the pair for the Tar Heels was arguably the best of the quartet – after all, Carolina is MJ's alma mater. The kicks also apparently weren't just gifted to basketball players: UNC was forced to suspend 13 football players ahead of last year's season opener after they violated NCAA rules by trying to sell their kicks.
Air Jordan 3 ‘Pure White’ (2018)Air Jordan 3 ‘Pure White’ (2018)
2007 saw the Jumpman drop one of the cleanest Air Jordan 3s of all time with the 'Pure Money' release. Essentially a 'Triple White' drop, the kicks were covered in smooth and tumbled white leathers, with all-white elephant print to boot. However, 2018's 'Pure White' follow-up improved on its predecessor but ditching the metallic silver eyelets and throwing in icy blue outsoles for good measure.
Air Jordan 3 JTH ‘Bio Beige’ (2018)Air Jordan 3 JTH ‘Bio Beige’ (2018)
Justin Timberlake famously took the stage during halftime of Super Bowl LII while rocking his own collaborative edition of the Air Jordan 3 'Tinker'. Like the 'Tinkers', Timberlake's kicks took cues from Hatfield's original Swoosh-emblazoned AJ3 sketches, but added the beloved White/Cement colourway to the mix. Even better than that coveted 2018 release, however, was the 'Bio Beige' version that dropped later that year. Not only did the unique drop keep Tinker's design intact, but it opted for a soft beige suede upper to go with blacked-out elephant print and raw leather lacing. Phrases like 'FAME IS A LIE', 'STRESS IS CRUEL', and 'HIGHER' were also subtly incorporated into the design.
DJ Khaled x Air Jordan 3 ‘Father of Asahd’ (2018)DJ Khaled x Air Jordan 3 ‘Father of Asahd’ (2018)
Say what you will about DJ Khaled, but the man can colour-up a pair of Jordans. After coming up with the predominately red 'Grateful' Air Jordan 3 in 2017 to celebrate his album of the same name, Khaled came back in 2018 with two more versions of the silhouette: the 'Father of Asahd' and 'Another One'. Of the two, we prefer the 'Father of Asahd' design, which echoed the general look of its 'Another One' counterpart while adding some red to the mix and switching out the blue tumbled leather for buttery suede. Naturally, each pair – which was only available by way of an online giveaway – came complete with a 'WE THE BEST' hangtag.
Air Jordan 3 ‘Chlorophyll’ (2018)Air Jordan 3 ‘Chlorophyll’ (2018)
In late 2018, Jordan Brand celebrated Tinker Hatfield's unparalleled contributions with a special 'Tinker Series' of classic Nike-inspired Jordans. Taking iconic Hatfield-designed Jordans and making them over with colourways from his Swoosh designs of the same year, the pack included the likes of an Air Trainer SC II–inspired Air Jordan 6, an Air Jordan 8 dressed in the look of the Air Raid, and an Air Jordan 10 in the Air Huarache Light's unmistakeable OG look. However, the most underrated of the bunch was a 'Chlorophyll' Air Jordan 3 that nodded to the original Air Trainer 1. Unfortunately, this little gem never got the love it deserved, and sat after launch. Even now you can find pairs for as little as $100.